The Form and Function of Scientific Discoveries

Kenneth L. Caneva

Dibner Library Lecture, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, November 16, 2000


I would like to express my warmest thanks to William E. Baxter (Head, Special Collections Department) for extending me the invitation to deliver the Dibner Library Lecture, to Ron Brashear (Curator, Rare Books in the History of Science and Technology, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology) for help in locating sources, to Nancy Matthews (Publications Officer, Smithsonian Institution Libraries) for shepherding my lecture through the press, and to Nancy Gwinn (Director, Smithsonian Institution Libraries) for continuing support and encouragement. I am indebted to Pia Grüner (The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters) and Judith Nelson (Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts) for tracking down a few facts for me, and to Gaylor Callahan (Interlibrary Loans, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) for making it possible for me to continue my research in Greensboro. I am especially grateful to David Dibner and The Dibner Fund, without whose support over the years my scholarship would scarcely have been able to proceed. Some of my research on Ørsted was done while I was a Smithsonian Libraries Dibner Library Resident Scholar at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1995, while much of the remaining research was done during the month of September 2000 while I was a Fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology in Cambridge.

Photo Credits

Front cover of the lecture publication: Title page engraving from Francis Bacon, Insatauratio Magna. Novum Organum Sive Indicia Vera De Interpretatione Naturae (London 1620).  Figures 1 and 5 are from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, photography by the Smithsonian Office of Imaging, Printing, and Photography.

Hans Christian Ørsted portrait is courtesy of Danmarks Tekniske Museum, Helsingør; Thomas Johann Seebeck and Johann Wilhelm Ritter portraits are courtesy of the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.

Web Design

The online version of the lecture was created by Katherine Rutkowski.